Gilman holds off No. 10 Dunbar; Rucker scores 16 (VIDEO HERE!)

Gilman’s Jalen Rucker goes up for two points ahead of  Dunbar’s Sammy Davis during Friday’s boys basketball match at Dunbar. Rucker finished with a game-high 16 points as the Greyhounds defeated the 10th-ranked Poets, 62-56, in east Baltimore. (photo – Jimmy Fields Sr.)

by Derek Toney

What a difference a week has made for Gilman School basketball.

The Greyhounds defeated No. 10 Dunbar, 62-56, in a non-league contest in east Baltimore. Senior guard Jalen Rucker finished with 16 points for Gilman (3-3 overall).

Playing for the first game inside the Poets’ fabled gym, the Greyhounds kept their poise in the closing minutes to pick their second victory this week over a VSN Top 20 squad. Wednesday, Gilman defeated No. 12 St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel.

Last week, Gilman dropped a home match to Loyola Blakefield after absorbing a 43-point loss at No. 4 Mount St. Joseph in MIAA A Conference action.

“We focused on a few things, but the biggest thing was coming together as a team,” said Greyhounds coach Will Bartz. “When I saw us huddling together in the first half during dead balls, I felt good about our place.”

“We lacked toughness the first couple of games,” said Rucker. “The win at Pallotti gave us the confidence to come in here and compete at a high level and do whatever’s needed to win.”

Rucker, who’s committed to Army, and senior Chase Drew combined to go 10-for-10 from the free throw. Freshman guard Christian Winborne came up with four points in the final frame.

With a mix of veterans and promising young talent, Gilman is expected to compete for a MIAA A postseason spot. The Greyhounds reached the St. Paul’s League final during the summer.

“I think there’s a continuity issue, not in a selfish way, but guys finding their roles,” said Bartz in his second season at his alma-mater after a long stint at Indian Creek School. “We’re a pretty deep team and a lot of guys fighting for minutes. We have so many guys we want on the floor.”

The Greyhounds started fast with a 9-2 advantage, and led 28-23 at halftime. Dunbar (2-2), playing a box-in-one on Rucker, pulled even at 43 entering the fourth.

Gilman’s young talent came up big in “Eastside Gardens” as junior guard Jordan Foster and sophomore forward Malik Missouri each had a basket. Missouri and 6-foot-9 junior post Roman Hinds each finished with eight points.

Dunbar senior guard Malik McCormick tied Rucker with a game-high 16 points. The defending Class 1A state champ Poets, who return only McCormick from last season’s starting five, are struggling to find consistency.

“We got to find way to pull together and play. We’re starting to get very very selfish and not stick to the system,” said Dunbar coach Diego Jones. “When you’re stepping out of the system, you’re not able to pass or cut, and at that point, your offense ain’t flowing. Something bad is going to happen.”

The Greyhounds have a much better perspective with road games next week at Annapolis and Calvert Hall College. Gilman will play in Salisbury for the Governor’s Challenge during the holiday break.

“It’s still early, but this teaches us how to win. We have four seniors and the rest are underclassmen,” said Rucker. “This is something to build on.”

“It’s easy to talk about belief, but for kids, you need results to see the things we’re working and emphasizing does work,” said Bartz. “There’s going to be ebb and flows and you got to keep believing. We keep saying we’re here now, don’t go back.”

Gilman School 62, No. 10 Dunbar 56

Gilman – Rucker 16, Missouri 8, Hinds 8, Foster 7, Drew 6, Winborne 6, Cooper 5, Lane 5. Totals 21 14-14 62.

Dunbar – McCormick 16, Barney 8, Edwards 7, Hunt 6, Jones 6, Davis 4, Williams 3, Ayers 2, Cannady 2, Miller 2. Totals 17 20-26 56.

Gilman 15 13 15 19 – 62

Dunbar 12 11 20 13 – 56